Kyaukpyu port to become model project in China-Myanmar BRI cooperation

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Photo taken on Jan. 13, 2020 shows students in Kyaukpyu, Rakhine State, Myanmar. [Photo/Xinhua]

High expectations

Although construction has yet to begin, residents in the town have expressed support for the project, and the hope for more jobs, higher incomes and better lives.

"Many people in Rakhine State have left to other cities or gone abroad for work due to lack of jobs here," and creating more work is the only way to bring them back and help revive the local economy, said Nyeinn Chann Maung, who owns a hotel in Kyaukpyu and is chairman of Kyaukpyu District Native Ethnic Development Association.

"We face transport difficulties, power shortages, and we don't have a big market, so building only one or two factories alone cannot change the game," he told Xinhua. "That's why we need a large-scale special economic zone."

"We have been looking forward to this project for quite a long time, like people in dire need of water yearning for a timely rain," he said. "With this visit of the Chinese leader, we feel we finally have that long-awaited rain."

Tun Nu, chairman of a local elders' association made up of 18 respected people from various sectors, voiced his hope for launching the Kyaukpyu SEZ as soon as possible.

"This is a poverty-stricken area, and we want this project to push for development," he said.

The 72-year-old said the deep-sea port would not only boost living standards but provide a growth engine for the local economy.

Kyaw Kyaw Soe, an entrepreneur who has helped build China-Myanmar oil and gas pipelines, showed strong interest in the port project, saying "We wish to join the project because we want to share the development dividends."

Such a huge investment is bound to instill vitality into local development and push up the gross domestic product of the region, he said.

Fostering talent

Because Kyaukpyu remains underdeveloped, young people have little opportunity to receive a higher education. They either fish for a living or opt to work elsewhere. To help equip young people with more practical skills, the CITIC consortium has set up a training center.

The first training program, which began in September last year and lasted two months, provided English-language and power engineering courses. The second program designed to teach Chinese is now underway.

Aye Thandar Linn, who is learning Chinese at the center, is an associate professor at the Government Technical Institute in Kyaukpyu, which focuses on training young talent for the Kyaukpyu SEZ.

"It will be much easier for me to communicate with Chinese enterprises in the future if I can speak Chinese, when the special economic zone is completed," she said.

"I also hope mastering Chinese can enable me to get more opportunities for my students, for them to work in Chinese companies," Aye said. "My expectation is that our graduates land good jobs because of the deep-sea port."

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